With the postseason firmly on the horizon, the Quad-City Mallards played like a playoff team Saturday night.
The Mallards struck early and kept the pressure on all game, rolling to a 5-0 win over the Missouri Mavericks on Saturday at the iWireless Center.
"I would say for the first time we played 60 minutes," defenseman Guillaume Gelinas said. "A couple bad shifts but overall it was a solid game. Everybody knows playoffs is near so everybody is focused and try to be ready for playoffs. We want to go, we want to win it so it's going to be a process and we start right now."
The win, coupled with Tulsa’s loss to Toledo, has the Mallards a point away from clinching their fifth straight playoff berth. The Mallards can clinch a spot today with a win or regulation loss to the Indy Fuel, whom they play at 2:05 p.m. at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The Mallards also maintained their four-point lead over the Kalamazoo Wings for third place in the Central Division and trail second-place Fort Wayne by seven points with 10 games remaining.
"It was probably one of the most complete games we've had all year," head coach Phil Axtell said. "The past two games, I've been talking to them about starting to play like it's playoffs and they're answering the call."
Sam Warning gave the Mallards a 1-0 lead at the 8-minute, 7-second mark of the first period for his 18th goal of the season. The Mallards thought they added a goal from Nolan LaPorte shortly after, but the ref blew the play dead after losing sight of the puck.
It’s the third time this season LaPorte has had a goal disallowed, but unlike the prior two times, the Mallards didn’t let the call snowball into a loss.
Instead, they kept piling it on.
Chase Lang scored at 18:17 in the first period, then Justin Kovacs and Gelinas added goals in the second period, which was filled with penalties, including a 4-on-3 chance from the Mallards on which Kovacs notched his goal.
"With all the special teams tonight, it was huge to keep our composure and stay focused," Axtell said. "You can't change a ref's mind and we kept going."
Lang, Warning, Kovacs and Gelinas each finished with a goal and an assist, and it was a particularly strong performance from Gelinas in a return from an upper-body injury that sidelined him two games.
Gelinas noted that getting a chance to see the game from the stands helped him with the strong return.
"It's not good to miss games but sometimes you can get positives from that," he said. "It's just some things I usually do and then I see on the ice it doesn't work so I try to do something else."
Andrew Panzarella added the game's final goal in the third period.
Adam Vay made 32 saves for his third shutout, all of which have come in the last 37 days. In his last 10 games, Vay has posted three shutouts, has a 2.00 goals against average and a .933 save percentage.
"This was a really good game and I have a shutout because the team played really good," Vay said. "We work hard, we play smart ... I feel like it was so quiet, how I moved, how I (was) tracking the puck ... that's why we need to play smart, play hard."